TODAY | January 26, 2013
>>> ron popeil is the tv pitchman and inventor who's made a name for himself by selling unusual, quirky items on tv. a familiar face to anyone who's watched late night infomercials. brian william recently caught up with him and some of his famous products.
>>> let me show you how to do it. put it on that needle. you tap it. you shake it. not you -- you shake this. and you go straight down like that. but wait -- there's more.
>> there's more. wait. you'll have the most --
>> reporter: the best-known salesman of the television era, maybe the best salesman of the modern era period. ron popeil has sold us things that chop and slice and dice and turn and spray. he has sold products that cook, products that suck, products that put dinner on the table. over the years, his products sold under his own name or the ronco label have brought in an estimated $2 billion. a huge chunk of that money came from his most successful big-ticket product, the showtime rotisserie oven.
>> i'll take the turkey --
>> reporter: which brings us to the next thing. with ron popeil , there's always a next thing.
>> we'll look this down, lock that -- we'll lock this down, lock that down. you go up, out, and down. you can't be splashed because when the food hits the oil, the lid is in place.
>> reporter: wow. he's spent 11 years trying to perfect an olive oil fryer that won't burn the cook or burn down the house. among other thing, it cooks a 15-pound turkey in 45 minutes. he says the product is ready to hand to a manufacturer and to prove it he cooked a lot of turkeys while we were there. you could work in a deli. that's a portable skill. not far away in a spare room in the house is a piled up monument to his obsession. all the failed attempts at his turkey fryer . ron, this is beverly hills . you can't have a mess like this. even though he sold ronco years ago, it's his name people still respond to.
>> ladies and gentlemen , i'm going to show you the greatest kitchen appliance ever made. it's called chop-o-matic.
>> reporter: what i love about your history is we've got two television cameras facing us. you went from state fairs to realizing this new invention was your way right through to the customer. that's what made you, i think, the salesman of our time.
>> if there was no tv, i'd still be standing on some coca-cola boxes at the state fair and screaming my lungs out. you just turn it.
>> reporter: at heart, he's an inventor, driven, never satisfied, always scheming, always selling. you're not going spend $400 or $350 or $320 or $300 or $290 like you may be thinking. not $280 or $250 or $260. not even $200. all you spend for this fabulous new fryer of mine is four easy monthly payments of only -- you have to watch the infomercial to find that out.
>> reporter: oh, man. i knew the payments were going to be easy. can i have some turkey?
>> please do.
>> reporter: that's a good turkey. that's a good bird.